Walnut and Macadamia Brownies

In the past week I've used 1kg sugar, 600g chocolate and 450g margarine in pursuit of the perfect vegan brownie.

In the past few years I've eaten various attempts at brownies by restaurants / cafes and only been impressed by one - Herbies in Exeter. They were kind enough to give me their recipe, however when I eventually tried it I found it to not work at all :(

They suggested they be cooked at 300oC, which when I tried at my oven's max (260oC) they burnt within minutes.

More interesting than the recipe itself is the technique - to take them out of the oven half way and knock the air out by banging a counter. I've not found reference to any other recipes using this technique through Google. If makes sense though - allow the mixture to rise creating texture but then knock the air out.

There seem to be many recipes online for what is essentially badly cooked cake mixture - not my idea of brownie! I've lost count of the number of forum posts I've read where people have claimed to have discovered brownie when their chocolate cake attempt went badly wrong.

To me a brownie should be crisp on the outside, cakey towards the egde then fudge (boarding upon gooey) in the centre. Not 'fudgy' - why make it fudge like when you can make real fudge?

The recipe I've created is essentially fudge (sugar + fat + chocolate) with enough flour and raising agent to separate out and form cake at the edges. I used Herbie's slamming technique, but increased the cooking time, lowered the temperature and added 2 slams.

I'm really pleased with the result - it excludes ingredients not generally found in British kitchens (egg replacer, specialist flours etc) and is simple to make. I used macadamias and walnuts, but any nuts can be used. I would recommend that you do use some form of nut though - my final test omitted them (for cost) and it didn't cook as well.

One important thing to note: these brownies improve with age. When you take them out of the oven the very centre will appear to be too gooey. Only when they've fully cooled (several hours later) will they have reached the right consistency. The first time I made them I thought the recipe was a failure - it wasn't until I tried them again a day later that I realised they were near perfect.

If you use a different size pan to me (e.g. they're thicker or thinner) then you'll need to play with the cooking time.
Wet Ingredients:
  • 300g Soft Brown Sugar
  • 50g Caster Sugar
  • 150g Soya Margarine
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 120ml Soya Milk
  • Dry Ingredients:
  • 125g Wholemeal Flour
  • 40g Cocoa Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • Other Ingredients:
  • 140g Chocolate
  • 75g Walnuts
  • 75g Macadamia Nuts
  • Start by melting the wet ingredients together in a pan over a low heat. Use a whisk to ensure they're fully combined and the sugar dissolved. Be careful not to overheat or take the mixture to the boil - it'll change the consistency if you do (e.g. you'll make toffee):

    Leave to cool - if it's too warm when you add it to the dry ingredients then it'll melt the chocolate and again change the end consistency.

    Mix the dry ingredients, then thoroughly combine in the wet:

    Chop the chocolate into chunks if not using chips. Chop or break the walnuts. Chop the macadamias if whole. Add to the mixture and stir briefly:

    Line an 11x7 inch pan with silicone sheet or baking paper, fill and even out with a spatula:

    Place in a 200oC (180o fan) oven for 10 minutes, then remove and bang down on the top of the cooker. If it's risen at all you should see it deflate. Return to the oven for a further 10 minutes. Remove and bang again, then place back in the oven for its final 10 - it should have 30 minutes in total.

    Finally remove from the oven, bang for a third time and place the tin in an ice water bath to stop the cooking (a larger pan with ice cubes and water will do the trick - just make sure the water doesn't go over the sides!).

    Leave in the pan for a few minutes, then lift out:

    Leave to cool for a few hours, then slice into 12, remove from the silicone/paper and leave to cool completely - overnight is best. If you don't you'll find it quite gooey in the centre (a good thing?).

    I'll experiment with using the brownie in other recipes (ice cream, sundaes, cheesecake etc), but it's incredibly moreish on its own (I've eaten a lot of this stuff this week!). Today we enjoyed some with mint tea:

    Something I don't make nearly often enough - handful of mint steeped in water with sugar. It's so much better than tea from bags!


    1. Anonymous said...:

      I feel the same way about brownies - it took me forever and a day to come across a decent recipe that I was actually proud to offer other people. When Moskowitz released VCIYCJ, I tried out her brownie recipe before anything else and they were perfect.

      Nevertheless, I shall certainly have to try these. I've heard the concept of 'whacking out the air' before, but I've never dared to try it. I've always feared it resulting in a flat and very sad-looking mess, but seeing how amazing yours look, I shall have to put aside my reservations and give it ago. :D

    1. These look delicious! I will definitely try these <3

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